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Ann Cannon: Utah writers pen their own backhanded obit tributes

First Published      Last Updated Feb 17 2016 04:13 pm

Remember "The Thorn Birds"? That epic saga about an illicit love affair between a handsome priest and a beautiful young woman? Author Colleen McCullough, who recently passed away, was described this way in an Australian newspaper obituary: "Plain of feature and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth."


That backhanded compliment has blown up on Twitter, inspiring individuals to write similar sentences for their own future obituaries — which inspired me to ask some our local writers (poets, novelists, a columnist or two) to join in all the reindeer games. Here's what they wrote.

"Thick of body and mind, and notoriously devoid of social graces, Robert Kirby was, nevertheless, The Salt lake Tribune's idiot-in-residence for more than 20 years."

"Despite the fact that her face and figure never slowed traffic even if she walked head on into it, and now inconveniently over 40 with a body that screamed 'I've borne four children!,' Shannon Hale, nevertheless, offered a little value as a novelist."

"Though she listened to a lifetime of NPR without ever pledging a single dime and was known as mediocre housekeeper at best, Tiffany Beveridge did manage to keep a ready supply of interesting reading material in her bathroom."

"After a courageous battle with female pattern balding, complicated by sagging earlobes, author Louise Plummer finally dropped into that dark, humiliating abyss for good. She was 72."

"Columnist Peri Kinder was the kind of woman who liked to stand on her own two feet — her great big size 10 feet — and although she could never quite find the perfect foundation to match her skin, she, nevertheless, always put her best face forward, hoping to bring laughter to the world around her."

"Chronically late and prone to sweating when she spoke in public, Jessica Day George managed, nevertheless, to write a number of books, at least one of which was briefly on the New York Times Best-Seller list."

"Sara B. Larson, unnaturally tall for a woman and often called a 'walking dictionary' as a child, was nevertheless able to use one of those attributes to her benefit as a YA author for Scholastic, though she never did use her height to any advantage."

"Julie Olson, one of Utah's many children's authors, was not a quiet soul: Unusually short (almost childlike) in stature, and certainly a know-it-all, she was, nevertheless, a person compelled to use art to tell stories."

"While having the physique of an overstuffed duffle bag full of doughnuts, Wade Bentley, nevertheless, hiked many a Wasatch hill and hobnobbed with actual starving poets."

"Alison Randall, afflicted with a short attention span and too many things she liked to do, managed, nevertheless, to have a few things published, raised three children, baked some pies, sewed some quilts, made some dolls, played some games … see what I mean?"

"Highly misinformed and former 'Tallest Kid in Class' Jess Smart Smiley was, nevertheless, a writer of many words and draftsman of millions of pictures."

"Pale of skin and living in exile from her island homeland, Lehua Parker was, nevertheless, a teller of Pacific tales, seeker of the ultimate shave ice, and Hawaiian at heart."

"Sharlee Glenn, never a best-selling author, was a farm girl — stout of body and certainly plain, she was nevertheless a woman of grit and gaiety."

"Born with no fashion sense and not much more common sense, Linda Hoffman Kimball cast off the mortal coil without having made much progress in either category: She did, nevertheless, write, draw and rhyme in many books, but always in sartorial disarray."

"Almost never on time and not quite sure what to call herself, Gwen Gwenny Jennifer Jenny Leigh Statham Holt was, nevertheless, a furious writer and whirling dervish in the kitchen. She leaves behind a giant stack of dirty dishes and several terrible poems."

"Awkward hugger and shameless people-watcher Ilima Todd was, nevertheless, a writer of teen characters who managed to thrive despite their own shame and awkwardness."

"Gloria Skurzynski was a successful author of 60 books. After her 80th birthday, nevertheless, her persona magically disappeared and she became totally invisible, though still alive and writing."

"After 50 years of a successful writing career, Amy Finnegan regretted just one thing: Having been ignored for decades, it was unlikely that a single 'real' friend or family member would attend her funeral, although her imaginary characters would likely show up in droves. Please send books in lieu of flowers."

"Although reliably cranky when not fed enough doughnuts in the morning, columnist Ann Cannon was, nevertheless, kind to large animals that drool and smell bad on warm days in spite of her churlish disposition."

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.